Monday, April 18, 2011

Rigatoni with Eggplant and Fresh Tomato Sauce

Eggplant is my favourite vegetable. I love that it can be fried, sauteed, pickled, baked, mashed, pureed and breaded! It can taste really rich or really light, great with bread, rice and pasta. I don't know another vegetable that's as dynamic... I lololololooooooove eggplant!

This pasta is super delicious, light and easy to make. It's so nice to make fresh sauce with juicy fat tomatoes and what better way to have it than with deliciously pan fried eggplant?!?!!?

1 small-med sized Italian eggplant
5 large tomatoes, pitted, quartered and roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
10 leaves of basil
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
olive oil or canola oil for frying
1/2 package rigatoni or the whole thing!
1/4 cup freshly grated parm cheese

Cut the eggplant in bite sized cubes. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes- this will make the eggplant sweat and lose some of its bitterness. 

Heat a saute pan with enough oil to shallow fry the eggplant. Pat the eggplant dry and fry in batches so they don't overlap. Turn the eggplant on all sides so every exposed area gets golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and rest on a plate lined with towel paper. Immediately sprinkle some kosher salt and pepper on the eggplant while hot! Reserve.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted boiling water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni to your liking.

In a saucepan, heat extra virgin olive oil and add the garlic. Cook on medium low heat until it's nice and golden. Once the garlic is lightly gold and soft add the tomatoes. They will start to sweat and collapse, add some pressure with your spoon to help break it down some more. Add 3 tablespoons of pasta water. Cover and let cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes (it depends on how long it takes to break down your tomatoes and make a sauce..some are softer than others...when it looks right it to your eye it's done). Add the chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some fresh cracked black pepper and basil. 

If the sauce is too runny you can add a teaspoon of tomato paste. Add the eggplant and cook on low for another 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss in with the sauce. Cook on low heat for one minute so everything mingles. Top with freshly grated parm cheese!

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